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Claudia Reder

claudia.jpgClaudia Reder’s newest book How to Disappear was published by Blue Light Press in 2019 and was awarded the Pinnacle Award. She also published Uncertain Earth (Finishing Line Press) and My Father & Miro (Bright Hill Press) and was awarded the Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize from Lilith Magazine, selected by Alicia Ostriker, the Bright Hill Press prize, and received two literary fellowships from the Pennsylvania Arts Council. She teaches at California State University at Channel Islands.

In the Stroll Garden

You had returned to the hotel,
you were not well.

The rest of us strolled
the meditation garden.
The Japanese maples
garnered moist shadows
among mossy stones:
apple green, downy moss.
greens lost in our California drought.

We had learned to live
moment by moment
although a friend, Rose,
said to return in spring
when irises and azaleas
show their full blooms.

After you rested, you joined us.
Your face lifted
and you smiled at Dan’s Red Sox cap,
a passion you siblings shared

According to the map it did not matter
which particular avenue
we chose, time would
bring us back to center.

On those paths we turned
and overturned,
with each curve
of the stones,
the ordinary world awakened:

the crowded lily pads in the koi pond
the canopy of red-
tipped Japanese maples;
later, sunset on English Bay.


I glimpse my half naked torso,
pull off my skirt. A moment to
examine time’s damage.

The breasts hang
a bit lower,
the stretchmarked belly
tilts this way and that;

I think of my mother turning slowly
to sit back in her wheel chair. She said
I feel like a dancing elephant
I understood the trudge and slow turn of one leg
then a foot following.

My body remembers the ache of giving,
breasts tender from nursing,
shoulders rounded from lifting.
The half-life of these shadows is long.

A friend loves to scramble up rocks
and hang off some cliff.
My inner ear imbalance sends me
feeling for a wall that isn’t there.

Near midnight, I jump into the slender pool.
The hips jiggle and swing,
thighs slap freely against one another,
the behind shapely in the water,
arms lifting and lowering,
my breasts, soft, round,
floating moonlight.
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